Cleveland Browns: RGIII looks to resurrect career and Cleveland
Robert Griffin III has a chance to turn around both his career and the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
Everyone loves a comeback.
We see them all the time and can’t help to be amazed when someone or somewhere makes an amazing turnaround.
We’ve seen it in our everyday lives and we see it in sports year in and year out.
The city of Cleveland has seen its share of comebacks over the last few years. We’ve witnessed the return of the King, as LeBron James returned to his beloved Northeast Ohio after a four-year stint in Miami.
We’ve witnessed the rebirth of downtown Cleveland as many new buildings, business’ and residents flocked back to the epicenter of Cuyahoga County once again.
The comebacks in this town have been happening all over the landscape. Everywhere except Berea, home of the Cleveland Browns training facility.
That was until now.
In what may become the biggest free agent signing in the history of the reborn Browns franchise, former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III looks to join in on the Cleveland comebacks.
Griffin, who was cast aside in Washington beaten, torn mentally and physically comes into a place that has been historically known where quarterbacks go to die, a place that boasts a jersey with a list of names of each quarterback who has attempted and failed to become the franchise quarterback the team so desperately seeks since 1999.
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So not only does RGIII come in here needing to rectify his career, he must also resurrect a storied franchise that has lain dormant for the past 17 years. Couple that with a fan base that has grown impatient with the constant turnover and rebuilding, and some would say this may not be the best situation for the once beleaguered quarterback.
A city that is desperate to win and a quarterback that is desperate to succeed.
But maybe it’s the perfect storm.
Maybe, just maybe, this is a match made perfectly.
It was but four years ago the Browns almost mortgaged the future to acquire the Baylor quarterback in the 2012 draft. Then team president Mike Holmgren was outbid by the Redskins in an attempt to move up and snatch RGIII. Holmgren eventually settled on Trent Richardson, a running back from Alabama, and quarterback Brandon Weeden from Oklahoma State in the first round. Neither are on the current Browns roster.
RGIII went on to Washington where he excelled in his rookie season. He claimed Offensive Rookie of the Year honors along with a trip to the Pro Bowl. He threw for over 3,000 yards along with 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
It seemed that RGIII had taken the NFL by storm and everyone waited in anticipation on what was yet to come for the young, star QB. Experts clamored on how the mobile QB out of Baylor was reinventing the quarterback position in the NFL.
But 2012 ended with controversy, a playoff loss and a slew of injuries to the young quarterbacks’ knees.
Coach Mike Shanahan was under fire after a report surfaced that Dr. James Andrews, the surgeon who performed the procedure a month earlier on RGIII’s knee, never cleared the QB to play against the Seahawks in the Wild Card round after injuring the knee less than a month earlier.
By the end of the 2012 campaign RGIII was tattered and worn suffering injuries to the ACL and LCL in his right knee and missing the Pro Bowl as well.
Despite the controversy, the future was bright though for the budding star. Analysts and coaches were mesmerized by his ability to be mobile on the field and complete passes with freakish accuracy. Everyone across the NFL couldn’t wait to see what RGIII would do next to follow-up his stellar rookie year.
Even coach Shanahan wanted to see what the young QB had up his sleeve for his sophomore season. So much so he may have rushed him back on the field too soon from the injury he sustained eight months prior. Most say to get back to 100% after those injuries takes about a year, but Shanahan and the Redskins pushed it and put the QB back on the field opening day 2013 against the Eagles after playing in no preseason games.
RGIII looked every bit of a player trying to play too soon after suffering a traumatic injury.
He struggled immensely in trying to regain his 2012 form that captivated the league and fans alike. A player that relied so heavily on his ability to make things happen with his legs when a play breaks down was unable to do just that and you could see the frustration begin to mount all around him.
RGIII’s 2013 campaign ended with him being inactive for the last three games of the year and Kirk Cousins was named the starter. Shanahan explained the move was to prevent any further injury RGIII.
2014 was much of the same for RGIII. New head coach Jay Gruden took over the team and it seemed from the start the one rising star wasn’t really in the new head coach’s plans. He again struggled with injuries and scares starting in the preseason and eventually coach Gruden made the decision to bench RGIII in favor of Colt McCoy with the team struggling.
Gruden eventually went back to RGIII after McCoy went down with a neck injury and he responded with a solid performance in relief of McCoy. He then followed it up with a win over the Eagles the next week. It felt for an instance that RGIII was capable of resurgence in Washington.
But that never happened.
The 2015 season came and Griffin’s season started again with injury. This time a concussion in the preseason that prevented him from taking the field. This allowed backup quarterback Kirk Cousins to make the start and the team never looked back.
Cousins was named the starter and RGIII was demoted to third on the depth chart behind the new starter and Colt McCoy.
RGIII was inactive for every game during the Redskins 2015 campaign.
On March 7, 2016 he was released by the Redskins and left to find himself and his career elsewhere.
He exited and left a famous quote from Mother Theresa. The gist of it: Don’t worry about everything else, in the end it’s between you and the man upstairs.
He entered a free agent market viewed mostly as damaged goods, major concerns if he could stay healthy and someone who is a “me” guy. Most teams didn’t waste any time even entertaining the idea of bringing him in and giving him another shot.
He visited the Jets, but they seemed to favor re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick over starting new with a different quarterback. People talked that maybe Denver would give him a look after Brock Osweiler bolted for Houston, but that never came to fruition.
And then out of the blue new Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson gave him a call.
RGIII came to Cleveland on an under-the-radar visit, a visit that lasted for two days. During the visit he was asked the tough questions about his character, his experiences in Washington and his health.
Coach Jackson, a quarterback aficionado, worked him out privately and was blown away by the poise and ability of the quarterback most left for dead at age 26. Jackson was quoted in saying, “the earth moved beneath his feet,” when he saw RGIII workout and that he threw the ball with “freakish” accuracy.
Jackson informed Browns brass of what he witnessed and the Browns moved quickly to sign the quarterback with everything to prove to a two-year deal.
Most say if anyone can put back together the broken, once up and rising star its Jackson and the Browns and Griffin seem to have bought in to what he’s selling.
If RGIII can resurrect his career, solidify the quarterback position in Cleveland and lead the Browns back to relevance this once left for dead falling star will rise from the ashes of failed quarterbacks like a Phoenix completing maybe the greatest comeback the city has ever seen.